Back in the old days of the prohibition, people met secretly for backroom poker games. They were games unsanctioned by the state, and off the books or under the table, or whatever term you want to use. People also met to drink secretly, too. It was a time of great – well, prohibition!
Anyway, as they illicitly played poker, people had to learn the rules to these games and have those basic agreements to how the games went.
A lot of that learning is still relevant today in the cash and tournament poker games that people enjoy in establishments like ours.
But what's the difference between a cash game and a tournament?
Some Things About Cash Game Play
In a cash game, players bring the money that they have to the table, and gamble with it.
In that scenario, their money is represented by chips, but there's no specific established buy-in, because people have different piles of chips, and it's not a winner take all situation. In a cash game, you can come to the table and walk away hours later after having broke even.
Cash games are also less time-intensive to play, because you can quit at any time. They’re not generally as much of an investment.
The Joy Of Poker Tournaments
Poker tournaments are different.
Most often, you'll have a specific set buy-in amount, and everyone will chip in the same amount of money. They’ll get the same amount of chips and then battle to the end. The one left standing will be the winner and will take the lion's share of earnings. The second runner-up may get a certain portion of the take.
Others will leave the table “divested of their initial funds.” At least, that’s the nice way to put it.
Game play is different here, too: you can go all in and make a big play for the entire amount of money that's on the table.
If your stack is big enough, you already have an advantage over others.
Also, many of these tournament games raise the initial buy-in or “ante” for each hand, so that the game ends instead of going on indefinitely.
Gaming geeks know about all of the specific stuff around tournament play, and how to analyze that gameplay itself.
There's not as much of that in the cash game world – people focus more on knowing their cards and understanding the psychology of good game hands.
Either way, this type of activity is great fun. Come down to the Gin Mill Card Club and experience it for yourself!